I know, I know, I always preach to give up your Starbucks’ habit if you’re trying to save money. But, for those of us who can’t seem to give up our overpriced coffee addiction, the next step is to find ways to save money at Starbucks.
To save money, I still believe you should make (most) of your coffee at home. In my post 25 Easy Ways to Save More Money, I talk about how you can save a lot of money by driving past Starbucks on your way to work each day.
I haven’t changed my mind and I still believe this to be true. However, I am all about living a fabulous life and not one of a pauper, so there are some lifestyle changes you can make in moderation that will not negatively affect your finances.
Starbucks is one of those places we never thought we needed, but now that they’re on every corner block, we feel like we can’t live without it.
It could be the branding, the atmosphere, or the deliciousness delivered in every cup of coffee. But let’s be real…the coffee is overpriced and loaded with calories. We know this, but we can’t stay away (well some of us).
Yes, it’s true that you can enjoy Starbucks and save money too. You just have to be a little creative. If you follow some of the tips below, you can save some money and enjoy your cup of joe.
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How to Save Money at Starbucks
My coffee addiction started while I was a freshman in college, so we’re talking about twenty years of drinking coffee every day.
Back then it was the espresso from our favorite (fake) French spot in the student union which lead to many visits to the local Starbucks.
I dated a manager from Starbucks.
My son worked at Starbucks.
And I used Starbucks as my office to interview potential tutors and hold meetings for my tutoring companies.
So needless to say, I know A LOT about Starbucks.
Which is sorta bad for me, but pretty good for you because I get to share my money saving tips for Starbucks.
Here are a few hacks that will help you to save money at Starbucks
Sign up for Swagbucks
You can wait for Christmas to collect them, but you’re better off just signing up for Swagbucks to earn as many as you can.
I complete surveys and watch videos to earn points (or Swagbucks), which I redeem for gift cards. I alternate between Amazon and Starbucks gift cards because that’s where I spend a ridiculous amount of my time.
Knowing that you’re not really spending any of your own money for coffee is always a good deal in my book.
If you haven’t already signed up for Swagbucks, sign up here and earn $5.
Download the App
Once you have those gift cards you earned from Swagbucks, download their app and use your phone to pay for your order.
With the app, you can order ahead and avoid the line (which really would’ve come in handy back in the day). You can also load all of your gift cards in one spot making it easier to keep track of them.
Become a Rewards Member
If you like the sound of free coffee, then you should definitely sign up for Starbucks’ reward program. It’s free to join and your purchases earn stars, which can be redeemed later for free drinks and food.
Once you become a rewards member you’re at the green level status. Make sure to link your gift cards to your app so you’ll never miss out on earning stars.
Benefits as a rewards member include earning 2 stars for every dollar spent, free birthday rewards, free in-store refills, and much more. Qualify for gold level status and enjoy even more benefits such as Double Star Days.
Bring a Friend
If you’re really looking to save money at Starbucks, then you may want to bring a friend with you to your next visit. Just order a Venti-sized coffee (or frappuccino) and ask for two tall cups. They’ll give them to you for free, so you can literally get two drinks for the price of one.
Bring Your Own Cup
Sometimes coffee tastes better in your own coffee cup. Bring your cup and receive a 10 cent discount on the closest size to your cup, but not larger.
Order a Coffee Press
You’ll pay less per cup if you order a coffee press pitcher. You can either share it with friends or hog it all by yourself while you work on that blog of yours (Ready to start a blog? Start here).
Request a Refill
As a rewards member, you’re allowed to get a free refill as long as you remain in the store and present the card or app you used to place the order. Otherwise, refills are just 50 cents which are still a bargain.
Rethink Your Drink
Sometimes you will have to make some changes to your drinking habits, which may help you to save money (and calories). Stay away from fancy drinks and ones that seem like they take forever to make (the fewer steps your barista has to take to make your coffee, the better it is for your pocket).
Make Your Coffee at Home
You can still enjoy Starbucks coffee without going into one every day. Just pick up either a bag of ground coffee or k-cups of your favorite coffee.
I enjoy drinking their Sumatra blend and will literally clear the shelves when their Christmas blend is available.
Hack Your Drink
If you’re creative, you may be able to save more money at Starbucks by asking for slight customizations to your drinks. This works if you know what goes into your favorite drinks in the first place and which tastes you prefer.
A few hacks to try:
- Order an Americano which is an espresso that costs slightly more than a regular coffee, but less expensive than a latte (don’t forget to add milk).
- Ask the barista not to add water to your iced tea, which is watered down already in the brewing process
- Order three shots of espresso and tell them to hold the milk (you can put your own milk in it at the condiment bar) for your $2 latte (do the same for an iced latte).
- Oder a short, which is smaller and cheaper than a tall, but contains the same amount of espresso
- If you like the taste of chai latte, get a chai tea (which is cheaper than coffee) and ask the barista to add milk.
- Make your favorite drink, order coffee and your favorite syrup (add milk at the bar) or ask for espresso shots and add your favorite syrup and milk. For example, I used to order a grande white chocolate mocha, but at the time paying for a $4 drink was an expensive daily habit. My friend told me to order a regular coffee with white mocha syrup, which costs around $2 – half of the price of the espresso. Depending on who makes my drink, I don’t even have to add any sweetener.
Bypass the Bottled Water
You can save money on water by avoiding the overpriced bottled water and asking for a cup of it from behind the counter. This option may even be safer than the bottled version since their water is triple filtered.
Be On the Look Out for Sales
Starbucks runs specials in-store and online all of the time. I never purchase their cups for full price and wait until they have been discounted (usually by 40%) before I grab them (because let’s be honest, their cups are to die for).
Buy your pods, k-cups, and instant coffee on sale. For instance, Starbucks is currently running a promotion of all their coffee online now. You can grab a pack of VIA for $7.46, therefore dropping the cost to 62 cents a cup!
If you go this route, grab the Italian Roast and not Columbian (trust me – you’ll thank me later).
Well, I hope these hacks will help you save on your next Starbucks’ visit since we know you’re not giving it up anyway.